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The Digestive System

 Nutrition in the Human

◦ Heterotrophic organisms – “omnivore” (human),
“herbivore” and “carnivore” – definition of terms.
◦ Explanation of the term “digestion”. Outline the
need for digestion and a digestive system.
◦ Explanation of the terms “ingestion”, “digestion”,
“absorption” and “egestion” as related to the
sequence in the human digestive tract.
 Human Digestive System
◦ Macrostructure and basic function of the alimentary
canal and associated glands in the digestion and
transport of nutrients.
◦ Explanation of the mechanical breakdown and
transport of food, to include the role of teeth,
peristalsis and the stomach.
◦ Explanation of the chemical breakdown of food, to
 Bile salts.
 The role, production site, pH at a named location of
action and products of an amylase, a protease and a
lipase enzyme.
◦ Two functions of symbiotic bacteria in the
digestive tract.
◦ Benefits of fibre.
◦ Basic structure of the small intestine and large
intestine in relation to their functions.
 Blood Transport of Nutrients
◦ Description of the composition of blood fluid as a
transport system of nutrients, the absorption of
nutrients from the villi, transport through the
hepatic portal vein to the liver. The function of
the liver (without biochemical pathways). The
transport of nutrients to all nutrient-requiring
cells of the body, and the transport of waste
products to the kidney.
 Balanced Human Diet
◦ Explain the concept of a balanced diet, variety
and moderation. Relate its importance to age, sex
and activity (detailed breakdown not required),
and to variety from a selection of food groups –
milk and milk products; meat, fish and poultry;
breads and cereals; fruit and vegetable; others
e.g. fats, oils , alcohol.
 Nutrition  Mechanical Digestion
 Autotrophic  Chemical Digestion
 Heterotrophic  Absorption
 Herbivore  Egestion
 Carnivore  Peristalsis
 Omnivore  Symbiotic Bacteria
 Ingestion  Balanced Diet
 Digestion  Food Pyramid
 Nutrition is the process by which an organism
obtains and uses its food.

 Autotrophic means an organism can make its

own food e.g. green plants.

 Heterotrophic means that an organism cannot

make its own food i.e. they must obtain their
food from the environment.
 There are three types of heterotrophs:
◦ Herbivores are animals that feed only on plants e.g.
cattle, sheep, deer.

◦ Carnivores are animals that feed on other animals

e.g. dogs, cats, seals.

◦ Omnivores are animals that feed on plants and

animals e.g. humans, bears, badgers.
 Digestion is the physical and chemical
breakdown of food into soluble particles
small enough to pass into body cells.

 Mechanical digestion is the physical

breakdown of food.
◦ This can be done using the teeth or by churning
the food in the stomach.

 Chemical digestion is the breakdown of

food using enzymes or acids.
 Need for a digestive system:
◦ Food is only processed once.
◦ The materials needed to process the food are in a
single place e.g. teeth in the mouth, acid in the
◦ Individual cells do not have to contain a full
range of digestive enzymes.
 In humans the digestive system
consists of the alimentary canal
or gut.

 This is a long tube starting at

the mouth and ending at the
 Ingestion – food is taken into the alimentary

 Digestion – the physical or chemical

breakdown of food.

 Absorption – the movement of digested

food into the blood.

 Egestion – the removal of unabsorbed and

undigested material in the form of faeces.
 Mechanical digestion of food in the mouth is
carried out by the teeth.
◦ This is called mastication.

 The smaller particles:

◦ Are easier to swallow.
◦ Have a greater surface area for enzymes to act on.

Teeth Function
Incisor Cutting
Canine Tearing
Premolar Crushing and Chewing
Molar Crushing and Chewing



 Chemical digestion in the mouth takes place
due to the action of the enzyme amylase
(found in saliva).

 Saliva is secreted by three pairs of salivary

glands and consists of:
◦ Water
◦ Salts
◦ Mucous
◦ Amylase (enzyme)
 The oesophagus is a thick
walled muscular tube.

 It connects the pharynx to the


 The bolus (ball of food) travels

down the oesophagus by
 Peristalsis is the rhythmic contraction
and relaxation of the wall of the
alimentary canal causing the food to
move along it.

 Dietary fibre (roughage) consists of

cellulose from plant cell walls.
◦ Humans cannot digest cellulose.
◦ Fibre stimulates peristalsis in the colon.
 The stomach is a J-shaped
muscular bag.

 It stores food for about 4


 It churns and mixes food with

gastric juice forming chyme (a
semi-solid liquid).
 Food enters the stomach
through the cardiac
sphincter muscle.

 Chyme leaves the

stomach in small amounts
through the pyloric
sphincter muscle.
Mechanical Digestion
 The contraction of the stomach walls helps to
break down the food.

Chemical Digestion
 The lining of the stomach (the mucosa) is
heavily folded, forming millions of gastric
◦ These glands secrete gastric juice into the stomach.
 Gastric juice consists of:
◦ Mucous which coats the stomach and prevents self-
digestion in the stomach.

◦ Hydrochloric Acid (HCl) which:

 Gives the stomach a pH of 1 to 2.
 Activates pepsinogen.
 Denatures salivary amylase

◦ Pepsinogen which is an inactive enzyme that is

converted to the active enzyme pepsin by HCl.
 Pepsin digests proteins to peptides.
 This is a 5-6 m long
muscular tube.

 The small intestine

consists of the:
◦ Duodenum
◦ Ileum
 The main function of the duodenum is

 The cells lining the duodenum produce a

range of digestive enzymes.

 The products of the pancreas and liver also

enter the duodenum.
 The food entering the ileum
is almost fully digested.

 The function of the ileum is

to absorb nutrients.

 Adaptations for absorption:

◦ Long tube – gives time for
◦ Villi – increase surface area.
 Villi are infoldings in
the small intestine.

 Each villus is also

covered in microvilli.

 This greatly increases surface area.

 The walls of the villi are one cell thick which

increases absorption.
 Inside each villus is a lacteal.

 This is filled with


 Fats are absorbed

into the lacteal and
are transported to
the bloodstream in
the lymph.


 In many animals the caecum and appendix
contain bacteria capable of digesting

 Humans do not need to do this and the

caecum and appendix have lost their former
 The functions of the colon are to:
◦ Reabsorb water.
◦ Absorb vitamins.

 Symbiotic bacteria in the large intestine:

◦ Digest cellulose.
◦ Produce B group vitamins.

 Symbiotic bacteria are bacteria that live on or

in another organism where at least one of
them benefits.
 The rectum stores the faeces before it is

 The anus is where the faeces is egested.

 Fibre stimulates peristalsis
in the colon.

 This helps prevent constipation.

 Constipation results when undigested

material passes through the colon too slowly
which results in too much water being
 The liver takes part in:
◦ Storage
 Excess glucose stored as glycogen.
 Fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A and D.
 Minerals e.g. Iron.
◦ Production
 Bile.
 Urea from the metabolism of proteins.
 Heat from chemical reactions.
◦ Breakdown
 Red blood cells are broken down in the liver.
 Toxic chemicals such as alcohol are also broken down.
 The liver produces a
yellow-green liquid called

 Bile is stored in the gall


 Bile enters the duodenum

through the bile duct.
 Bile consists of:
◦ Water.
◦ Bile Salts.
◦ Bile Pigment.

 Function of bile:
◦ Emulsifies fat – this increases the surface area of fat
◦ Neutralises the acidic chyme from the stomach.
 The pancreas secretes
the hormone insulin
and digestive materials
which form pancreatic

 Pancreatic juice consists of:

◦ Sodium bicarbonate – neutralises chyme from the
◦ Pancreatic amylase – converts starch to maltose.
◦ Pancreatic lipase – converts lipids to fatty acids and
 Enzymes are biological catalysts.

 Three enzymes involved in digestion are:

◦ Amylase.
◦ Pepsin.
◦ Lipase.
Site of Site of Substrate
Enzyme pH Product
Production Action (acts on)

Salivary Salivary
7 Mouth Starch Maltose
Amylase Glands

Pepsin 1 Gland Stomach Protein Polypeptides
(Stomach Wall)

Fatty acids &

Lipase 8 Pancreas Duodenum Lipid
 A balanced diet is one which contains all the
essential nutrients in the correct amount.

 The essential nutrients are:

◦ Carbohydrates
◦ Lipids
◦ Proteins
◦ Vitamins
◦ Minerals
◦ Water
◦ Fibre
 The amount of food required depends on:
◦ Age – Young adults need more food than other

◦ Gender – Males need more than females.

◦ Activity – More active people need more than less

active people.
 The Food Pyramid indicates the recommended
servings of each food group.

 The food groups are:

◦ Fruit and vegetables.
◦ Breads and cereals.
◦ Milk and milk products.
◦ Meat, fish and poultry.
◦ Fats and oils.